In the previous blog https://drpeterwilmshurst.wordpress.com/2022/09/25/is-the-lancet-complicit-in-research-fraud/ Professor Patricia Murray and I explained that the Lancet has failed to retract two articles by Paolo Macchiarini, which described surgery on a patient in Barcelona in 2008 and her follow up in 2014.1,2 There is no doubt that senior editors of the Lancet know that the publications are fraudulent. They have the evidence of fraud relating to these publications, which caused serious patient harms. The Lancet’s continued endorsement of Macchiarini’s publications is difficult to understand because a branch of Sweden’s Central Ethical Review Board found him guilty of research fraud in 2017 and requested retraction of publications that Macchiarini falsified when working at the Karolinska Institute. The Swedish investigators had no authority to consider Macchiarini’s original 2008 paper from when he worked in Barcelona. Since 2019, Macchiarini has received criminal convictions in Italy and Sweden for harming patients in those countries after he left Barcelona.
This piece raises a contentious question, is the COPE logo being used by unscrupulous publishers to give them an unwarranted veneer of being reputable? It uses some current poor behaviour to characterise named titles as being questionable. We are proud supporters and members of COPE. Nevertheless, Peter has raised an important point. Does COPE have a responsibility to police where and how their name is used?
In this blog, I explain my role in the formation of COPE in 1997 and how I was informed that I was no longer a member of COPE two days after I complained to COPE that the Lancet was behaving improperly by refusing to retract Macchiarini’s fraudulent publications. I also describe how, in January 2019, COPE agreed to investigate my complaint that the Lancet had behaved improperly by failing to retract the falsified publication. Almost four years later, COPE has failed to tell me the outcome of that investigation.